MOTU, long a big advocate of FireWire for audio, announced this week it will offer its 828 mk II interface in a USB 2.0 version. They’ll continue to offer the FireWire version, and the two interfaces offer the same features and performance, so the choice is really a matter of what computer connections you have free.
With increasing attention on USB 2.0, is this the beginning of the end for FireWire? Mac users get really touchy about this subject, since Apple replaced its iPod connections with USB 2.0. It’s ironic that Mac users would be the most upset, because the Mac platform popularized both formats: Apple led the way with USB on the iMac and was ahead of the curve adopting FireWire (which it co-developed) and USB2. Current Macs are the most consistent with I/O options: USB2 and FireWire are standard, and even FireWire 800 ships on many models. So Mac users, as usual, you can breathe easy.
For audio, it’s much ado about nothing. USB 1.1 performs quite well for audio interfaces with fewer connections, and MOTU’s announcement comes at a time when FireWire connections have made their way onto more PCs, even though they were once a rarity.
Of course, I’m not a hardware manufacturer, and I know some people who read this site are — so I might have this completely wrong. If so, please feel free to correct me, anonymously or otherwise. But it looks like USB2, FireWire, and USB all offer excellent audio interface possibilities. And I think choice is a good thing.